Murphy’s Law of radioactivity measurement

If you’re like me, you’ve been following with great concern the latest radioactivity measurements in various places, from Japan to the US West Coast. What an utterly hopeless task:

  • sieverts
  • grays
  • rads
  • rems
  • Roentgens
  • becquerels

Is this a joke? How are you supposed to understand anything at all from this gibberish?

Well, yes it is a joke, of course, in the same way the entire universe is a joke (and a rather sick one!), as the apocryphal sage Murphy first observed:

Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.

I once saw a booklet of addenda to Murphy’s Law. This week, I suddenly remembered one that seems germane:

Measurements will always be given in the least useful unit: Thus speed will be given as furlongs per fortnight.

Fortunately we have Mr Crotchety, who sent me this chart which, if correct, puts it all in some perspective.